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Mercedes and McLaren impress

Sky Sports logo Sky Sports 01-03-2016 skysports.com

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Mercedes have topped the testing timesheets for the first time in 2016 as F1's world champions gave a first true glimpse of their new car's potential. 

After prioritising reliability over performance running in the first week of testing in Barcelona, Mercedes began to take the shackles off the W07 on the opening day of the final test - and with ominous results for their rivals.

Nico Rosberg's morning in the car produced the fastest times seen at testing on the soft and medium tyre.

Mercedes' times were half a second quicker than Ferrari have managed on either compound so far.

Rosberg's best soft tyre lap of 1:23.022 was also just two tenths shy of the fastest overall time set last week by Sebastian Vettel on ultrasofts - a compound which has a performance advantage of over a second.

Rosberg: It's very close between Mercedes and Ferrari

However, despite their apparent advantage of half a second, Rosberg told Sky Sports News HQ: "It's very close between Ferrari and us - and another team might be there as well."

Lewis Hamilton took over the W07 in the afternoon and finished sixth after running exclusively on the slower medium tyres.

Williams gave little indication of their form in week one, but also enjoyed an encouraging Tuesday. Valtteri Bottas clocked the day's second-quickest lap, set on ultrasoft tyres, having already set the second best time of either test on soft tyres.

Sky Sports F1's schedule for the second Barcelona test

While McLaren-Honda are unlikely to be in the fight at the front in the short-term, the under-pressure team delivered arguably their best day of testing since the partnership was revived 12 months ago.

Fernando Alonso finished third on the timesheets after taking the soft tyres to a lap of 1:24.735. After stumbling on the final two days of the first test, McLaren completed 92 laps with their only delay occurring when a telemetry problem stopped the MP4-31 on track just before lunch.

"This week's test is the really important one," Jenson Button told Sky Sports in an exclusive interview ahead of his return to the car on Wednesday.

McLaren boss Eric Boullier told reporters on Monday that he expected "massive gains" from the team this season.

Ferrari too ran into their own reliability problems, with Kimi Raikkonen losing two hours of track time after his SF16-H became stuck in eighth gear. The Finn was fourth with 72 laps.

Although the Raikkonen did clock Ferrari's fastest time of testing on medium tyres, his 1:24.836 was half a second slower than Rosberg's own medium-tyre effort.

Red Bull finished fifth with Daniil Kvyat but ran into more lengthy delays after the RB12's rear brakes caught fire in the pit lane.

However, Haas endured the most disappointing Tuesday of all as their VF-16 ran for just 23 laps in the morning before a fuel pump problem curtailed Esteban Gutierrez's day.

Barcelona Test Two, Day One timesheet

1. Nico Rosberg, Mercedes, 1:23.022, soft tyres, 82 laps2. Valtteri Bottas, Williams, 1:23.229, ultrasoft tyres, 123 laps3. Fernando Alonso, McLaren, 1:24.735, soft tyres, 93 laps4. Kimi Raikkonen, Ferrari, 1:24.836, medium tyres, 72 laps5. Daniil Kvyat, Red Bull, 1:25.049, soft tyres, 69 laps6. Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes, 1:25.051, medium tyres, 90 laps7. Max Verstappen, Toro Rosso, 1:25.176, medium tyres, 144 laps8. Nico Hulkenberg, Force India, 1:25.336, soft tyres, 121 laps9. Felipe Nasr, Sauber, 1:25.493, soft tyres, 103 laps10. Kevin Magnussen, Renault, 1:25.760, soft tyres, 119 laps11. Esteban Gutierrez, Haas, 1:26.661, medium tyres, 23 laps12. Rio Haryanto, Manor, 1:27.699, medium tyres, 45 laps

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